Word on the street is that MasterChef Australia’s Top 50 auditions have started. Late last year, when I auditioned after waiting for five whole years to be eligible, I remember frantically Googling for tips to try and find out any snippet of information that would help me get through those auditions. After all, that’s the hardest part right – when the thousands of applicants get down to a mere 50.
Unlucky for me, the interwebs had no answers. So while I’m a bit late to give you tips for 2015’s Top 50, in the spirit of sharing, helping others recognise their dreams and of course, making sure Google has the the answers to all of life’s questions, here are my top tips for making it through to the Top 24.
The first step is of course the 6 page, 60 question, tell-me-everything-about-your-life application that stands between you and being called in for auditions. And you know what? It’s just luck. It depends on what the producers are looking for this year, how thorough they’ve been with reading through applications – are they just looking at a few key questions. You know how I know – I submitted EXACTLY the same application, word-for-word, last year as I did the year before. Of course, if you want to increase your chances of getting lucky, it’s best to include details of every significant trauma in your life in excruciating detail for instance, anyone in your family having life-threatening illness, having survived through any horrific situations (think bushfires, earthquakes, wars) or anything along those lines. If, like me, you’ve lived a mostly normal life – well then, you take your chances.
Make like a boy scout and be prepared. The off camera audition process has changed over the years, so think of a dish you can cook using any meat (make sure you refer to it as protein for bonus points) – like a curry, for instance. Think of a dish you can cook using a cut of meat that you can’t be sure exactly where it’s from – meatballs, for example. And think of a dish that you can adapt to any situation – like dumplings, you can stuff those little suckers with almost anything. And have a signature dish. Yes, yes I know it’s pretty wanky and I personally don’t invite guests over to come have dinner featuring my ‘signature dish’, but at least think of one. If you don’t, like me, you risk going to auditions on two hours sleep, can of V in hand, after being up til 3am trying to wing it creating one. It does not look good to be on camera almost drunk on no sleep, eyebags galore.
Ask any chef (and in fact, Heston refers to it in his book, Heston at Home) and you’ll find that the biggest difference between amateurs and professionals is that they season their food properly. It’s a fine line, and one you can only learn with practice – learn it.
Have a story
Remember that every audition for a reality TV show is essentially a casting session. Before you get on camera, you have to prove you’re going to be worthwhile. And standing between you and the judges, are producers. MasterChef, like any other show, is about making TV, and for every TV show there needs to be heroes, villains and everyone in between. If you can get the producers/judges to identify with you, you’re halfway there. After so many seasons though, cut the bullshit – the judges are genuinely top blokes, are invested in everyone that they pick and can spot your crap a mile away.
Know what you’re in for
Remember what you’re signing up for – long days of filming, months away from family with barely 20 mins a week in phone calls, potentially giving up your job and a very, very much reduced stream of income (I don’t think I’m allowed to say, but Google it). If you’re anything like me, you’re sick of seeing people whinge about missing their families, cry needlessly on camera and refer to their ‘food journeys’. So, decide what kind of game you want to play. Either be true to yourself or commit to the game, like Survivor in a way, and play the game, tears and all.
Good luck, and I look forward to hearing from those who have auditioned. If you ever need any advice, you can reach me on Twitter. Once you’re in, you’re part of the MasterChef family. It’s a small family, but we are stronger through our shared experiences. And good and bad, it will be like nothing you have ever experienced before.